Artists Have So Much Fun

Artists have so much fun. They often get to realize their innermost fantasies (sometimes with the help of generous patrons or art-centric cities, like NYC). It wouldn’t have been my specific fantasy, but placing naked, life-size figures on the tops of New York buildings (top), as a way to force passersby to better appreciate their time and surroundings, is quite an ambitious dream. In this case the British artist Antony Gormley, with the support of the Madison Square Park Conservancy, Gormley has positioned 27 fiberglass figures (life-sized molds of himself) on buildings within a nine-block radius of Madison Square Park, along with four iron-cast sculptures on the ground.
 
“Within the condensed environment of Manhattan’s topography,” notes Gormley in a catalog published in TimeOut New York, “the level of tension between the palpable, the perceivable and the imaginable is heightened because of the density and scale of the buildings.” It forces people to search out the work as though a mammoth Easter egg hunt. I, for one, was oblivious until I saw the TimeOut catalog. Now, I see them everywhere.
 
(Photos by James Ewing)
 

 


About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes a weekly column for The Atlantic online and is the "Visuals" Columnist for the New York Times Book Review. He is also the author of over 160 books on design and visual culture. And he is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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  1. I love Gormley’s work. One note of interest is that this piece required that the figures’ toes be just over the edges of the buildings to emphasize that they were watching. Canadian artist Peter von Tiesenhausen also has a similarly flexible installation piece using figures, the main difference being their rough-hewn wooden carving as opposed to Gormley’s castings of his own body.

  2. I love Gormley’s work. One note of interest is that this piece required that the figures’ toes be just over the edges of the buildings to emphasize that they were watching. Canadian artist Peter von Tiesenhausen also has a similarly flexible installation piece using figures, the main difference being their rough-hewn wooden carving as opposed to Gormley’s castings of his own body.

  3. I love Gormley’s work. One note of interest is that this piece required that the figures’ toes be just over the edges of the buildings to emphasize that they were watching. Canadian artist Peter von Tiesenhausen also has a similarly flexible installation piece using figures, the main difference being their rough-hewn wooden carving as opposed to Gormley’s castings of his own body.